Suspension Kit Buyer's Guide
- A suspension kit is a collection of parts that are used to restore, replace, or modify a vehicle’s suspension system.
- Each kit typically includes coil springs, shocks and struts, sway bar links, idler arm, pitman arm, tie rod ends, wheel hubs, and ball joints.
- These components work together to help your vehicle switch directions and turn with ease, providing the required grip and support to prevent excessive body roll.
- Symptoms of a bad suspension system are leaking shocks and struts, pulling to one side, excessive bouncing, riding low on one side, front diving, rear squatting, and rolling while cornering.
- The cost of a replacement suspension kit can fall anywhere between $20 and $3175.
The condition of your vehicle’s suspension system has a dramatic impact on your vehicle’s handling and ride quality. At the same time, faulty components can cause steering problems that can compromise your safety on the road.
As soon as your vehicle exhibits one or more of the symptoms of a bad suspension system, it’s recommended that you have it checked by a licensed mechanic.
What Is a Suspension Kit?
A suspension kit is a collection of parts that are used to restore, replace, or modify a vehicle’s suspension system. Each kit may contain a different combination of suspension components, but in general, includes the following parts: coil springs, shocks and struts, sway bar links, idler arm, pitman arm, tie rod ends, wheel hubs, and ball joints.
How Does a Suspension Kit Work?
A vehicle’s suspension system is designed to make driving as smooth as possible by absorbing vibrations and minimizing bounce while driving on the road. These components also work together to help your vehicle switch directions and turn with ease, providing the required grip and support to prevent excessive body roll.
What Is the Difference Between a Lift Kit and a Suspension Kit?
There are three common types of suspension kits available in the market today—replacement suspension kits, suspension lift kits, and lowering kits.
As its name suggests, a replacement suspension kit is designed to restore or repair your vehicle’s suspension system according to existing manufacturer specifications. The other two types are designed to modify your existing suspension system by increasing or reducing the gap between your tires and fenders.
The second type that you can choose is a suspension lift kit. This collection of parts allows you to modify your ride height and create additional fender and ground clearance. Lift kits are commonly fitted on SUVs, trucks, and off-road vehicles in order to accommodate larger tires.
If you want to reduce drag and boost fuel efficiency, a lowering kit is your best bet. These kits are made up of components like shocks and struts that are designed to reduce ride height and minimize fender clearance so your vehicle can achieve a sporty and aggressive stance.
How Do You Know if Your Suspension Is Damaged?
A bad or failing suspension system will have noticeable symptoms that will affect the drivability of your vehicle. As soon as your vehicle exhibits one or more of the symptoms below, it’s recommended to have it checked by a licensed mechanic.
Leaking shocks and struts
One thing that you can visually check is your shock and strut assembly. Check if these parts appear greasy or oily which could be a sign of a hydraulic fluid leak. The fluid contained inside the cylinder allows the shock absorbers to dampen unwanted up and down movement of your vehicle effectively.
Vehicle pulls to one side
Damaged control arms, ball joints, and shocks or struts can cause your vehicle to pull to one side while driving. This will also inevitably cause uneven tire wear. This symptom should not be taken lightly as it could compromise the safety of your vehicle.
A good suspension system will minimize bouncing and allow you to drive smoothly over bumps or potholes. When bushings and other parts wear out, you’ll notice that your car bounces more noticeably, even if you’re driving on a well-maintained road.
You can do a simple test by pushing down your weight on the nose of the vehicle. If your car bounces back more than three times, it’s likely that your shocks or struts have gone bad.
Vehicle rides low on one side
A damaged spring can cause your vehicle to ride lower on one corner. This may also cause squeaking or clunking noises while driving over uneven roads.
Front diving, rear squatting, and rolling
A failing suspension system will also affect your vehicle’s ability to stop and switch directions smoothly. Bad suspension components can cause your vehicle to dive forward while braking. They can also cause the body of your car to roll on one side when tackling corners. Another sign that you should watch out for is rear squatting as you accelerate.
Why Is It Important to Replace Failing Suspension Parts?
The condition of your vehicle’s suspension system has a dramatic impact on your vehicle’s handling and ride quality. When one or more parts fail, your car becomes unpleasant to drive. More than that, driving with worn or damaged suspension components can be dangerous because they can make your vehicle difficult to steer. It is best to have faulty suspension parts checked by a professional and replaced as soon as possible.
How Much Is a Replacement Suspension Kit?
The cost of a replacement suspension kit can fall anywhere between $20 and $3175. Its price will vary per make and model year. It will also depend on the number of suspension parts included in the kit—some are sold as a two-piece kit, while others can have as many as sixteen pieces included.
Finding the Right Fit
CarParts.com carries high-quality suspension kits for cars that cater to a wide range of makes and models. Start your search for the right one today by using our website’s built-in vehicle selector. Simply plug in your vehicle’s correct year, make, and model to narrow down the results to all compatible kits.
DIY: Car Suspension Kit Replacement
If you're interested in replacing your old and damaged suspension parts with the parts included in a suspension kit, this simple guide will teach you how it's done. It's best to set aside a day for this job; it'll take five hours for beginners and three hours for experts to finish this task.
Difficulty level: Difficult
What you'll need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Suspension kit
- Lug wrench
- Impact wrench
- Replacement nuts and bolts
Make sure that the suspension kit that you bought suits your car's make and model.
Step 1: Open the hood. Then, don't forget to disconnect the black (negative) cable on your car's battery to avoid electric shocks.
Step 2: Lift your car off the ground with a floor jack. For you to safely install the suspension kit, prop jack stands at both sides of your car.
Step 3: On each wheel, loosen and remove the nuts securing the lower shock mounting stud. Put them aside, so you won't lose them.
Step 4: Remove the shock from its mount carefully. If it won't come off easily, use your hammer or another heavy tool to gently coax it.
Step 5: Once the shock is removed, disconnect the studs securing the leaf-spring mounts in place. Don't forget to keep these studs separate from the lower shock mounting nuts.
Step 6: Remove the U-bolts from the frame. Once they are safely loosened and removed, take the leaf springs and mounting brackets.
Step 7: Get the new suspension springs from the suspension kit and mount them on the mounting brackets.
Step 8: Get the old bushings from the car frame, and replace them.
Step 9: Before putting the leaf springs back in place, check if the old bolts are still stable. If they are too corroded or rusted, you have to replace the bolts.
Step 10: Connect the U-bolts that you removed back to the frame.
Step 11: Once the U-bolts are secure, install the new shocks to the lower mounting points. Don't forget to tighten the bolts and nuts holding the shocks in place.
Step 12: Gently lower your car back to the ground. Then, reconnect the battery, and start the engine. Test your new suspension by driving on safe streets for a few miles. If all the parts are still in place, then you did a great job. If not, check which part needs to be installed again.